Late Night Snacks and Weight Gain

Keep a diary. Record all food consumed for at least a week to determine the number of calories you are consuming daily.

"Having the amount of food consumed staring back at you can be a sobering realization," says Hensrud. From here, gradually begin to decrease the number of snacks eaten per night.

Plan a healthy late-evening snack. If snacking at night is a regular routine, "planning an evening snack is the easiest way to get eating back under control and the easiest way to control the size of the snack," says Baker.

In the evening, people tend to eat more snack foods, higher-fat foods, and larger portions. Instead, opt for something low-fat that digests easily, such as microwave popcorn, a glass of milk, fruit, hard candy, or even a fudge Popsicle. These will satisfy your craving, whether it's for something salty or sweet.

Other healthy but filling options include crackers with peanut butter; yogurt and fruit; a small salad with a slice of whole grain bread; low-fat frozen yogurt topped with fruit; or bean dip with baked tortilla chips.

Change your routine. "Many night snackers are in the habit of eating at night, and this is what drives them to continue eating," says Jeff Hampl, assistant professor at Arizona Sate University in Tempe, Ariz., and a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.

To conquer the habit, Hampl recommends substituting non-food rewards, such as taking a bubble bath or going for a moonlit walk. Just make sure the walk's not to a late-night fast food restaurant.

Terri Russell of ABC affiliate KOLO in Reno, Nev., contributed to this report.

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